La Paz - Time to learn the lingo

Trip Start Apr 05, 2008
Trip End Mar 20, 2009

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Monday, June 16, 2008

We arrived in La Paz and got picked up from the bus station by the principal of the Spanish school and dropped off at our host family (Vicente & Alicia) for the week. We thought that it would be a good idea to stay with a local family to help us get used to using and hearing Spanish while we were enrolled into an intensive Spanish class. Although the family were lovely, I think we should have had some level of Spanish first. Alicia tried her best to talk to us and explain what items were in Spanish which Alanna was able to make some sense of (I didn't have a clue what she was saying most of the time) but we would have preferred to be able to string sentences together so we could have a conversation.
On the first day of school we were given a test to decide what class we would be put into and as I had had no exposure to Spanish, I handed the exam paper back to Omar with only my name written on it and the Spanish word for beer as that was all I knew. Knowing I was definitely heading for the dummies class I was surprised to see Alanna join me as she had already completed a 10 week course prior to this trip. I guess they thought I needed company. The classes were intense and lasted 4 hours each day, which allowed us to have our afternoons and evenings free. Each day after class Vicente would pick us up and take us back for lunch and then we would join in on the Mexican tradition of having a siesta before heading out for the rest of the day when it was cooler. The school was brilliant, Omar and Cynthia were fantastic teachers and kept the classes interesting and fun. Alanna took to the Spanish very well and even I picked up a bit i.e. I can understand more than I can speak. We both felt that if we had time to stay an additional week we would be able to have proper conversations but unfortunately we don't so we'll get by with Spanglish.
On the Friday we left Alicia and Vicente to go and stay at a hotel that was closer to the centre of the city and activities on offer. We ended up booking a dive trip out to Isla Espiritu Santo where we were told we would see heaps of marine life. We ended up doing 3 dives, two at Los Islotes (a small rocky area just north off Isla Espiritu Santo) and one at the shipwreck of Fang Ming, a boat that was caught smuggling Chinese into Mexico. It had been 7 years since our last dive and when Alanna first got in the water I thought she was going to have a panic attack, she went completely pale and looked incredibly uncomfortable, however she continued anyway and relaxed back into it once we were about 10m down. The dive was really good and we had sea lions swimming around us during most of the dive along with a small amount of coral and a varied amount of tropical fish. The second dive was my favourite as I had a large sea lion swim about 1 arms length away from me for about a minute just watching me. I was told by the dive master it is currently mating season and he was probably checking to see if I was an 'option'.
By the 3rd dive Alanna was completely relaxed and fully enjoying the experience of diving again, the dive through the wreck was fun as we circled the outside of the boat before going inside and exploring all the rooms on the boat. After the dive trip we were pretty hungry so stopped off at 'Bandido's' for a snack. The food here was surprisingly terrific, it is set out like having a BBQ at your mates house with good music pumping out in the background. We enjoyed it so much we ended up going there everyday from then on.
We had to change hotels as the hotel we were staying at was closing down for the week (we are in the off season), so we headed out to the La Concha which was a beach resort 5kms out of town but closer to the ferry terminal where we would need to take a taxi when we head off to Los Mochis. The beach resort was a little disappointing and didn't quite live up to the website but we still enjoyed our stay. On our last day we rented a car so we could explore the beaches, Playas de Tecolote & Balendra Bay. We preferred Balendra Bay so parked up and settled there for the day under a palapas. The bay is like an advert for the Caribbean where you have people lounging in perfectly clear shallow water on white sands, I could think of worse ways to spend a day.
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